Posts Tagged ‘setting targets’

2013 Goals – It’s all in the language

January 14, 2013

Popular targets people set for themselves are around what they want less of in the year ahead …

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  • I want to eat less chocolate
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to be less stressed
  • I want less clutter
  • I want to work less evenings during the week

Have you ever found yourself phrasing your goals in terms of what you are trying to avoid, reduce or give up?

What we say to ourselves about the changes we want to make is crucial in achieving those changes.

When I was doing my coaching training, one thing I learned stuck in my mind … apparently the brain doesn’t process negative language the way we intend it to.

So for  “I want to eat less chocolate”, the brain doesn’t interpret that you want to reduce your chocolate intake, rather it focuses on “I want to eat ___ chocolate”.

Thinking about how I used to set goals it makes sense that this was happening with me on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. Whenever I thought about my goals I found myself reminded about what I was trying to avoid!

So focus on what you want, rather than on what you’re aiming to avoid – even if you start from the latter point, you can always re-word your goals to something more positive and achievable.

For example:

  • I want to eat fruit (or other healthier) snacks between meals
  • I want to be ___ kg (or stone/pounds!)
  • I want to have strategies I can use for stressful situations
  • I want to create a tidy home/work space
  • I want to have 3 evenings a week to spend with family/friends/chilling out

How have you worded your goals this year?

Connecting with the real you

August 1, 2012

When we’re in the thick of it at work we often find ourselves being pulled in different directions, with different demands on our time and energies. We are different things to different people. We rarely have time for ourselves.

So when your holiday comes around, who do you become? What’s your default position? And is this the real you?!

Do you prefer a more relaxing time?

Or something more energetic / adventurous?

Or is it all about quality family time?

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I tend to go for a mixture of all 3! I like my “me time” – where I reflect on the past few months, what I’ve achieved, and where I want to go next (business; health/well-being). I also like to reconnect with what’s important, my values, and ensure that these are being catered for in my plans for moving forward.

I usually combine this with being out and about, going places I’ve never been before, taking photos and soaking it all up. New experiences feed the soul. Love this view we discovered recently of Chatsworth grounds from a ‘secret pond’ we’d never have discovered had we not been walking the dog nearby.

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to discover something new!

Quality time with family and friends is also high on the agenda around this time. I always enjoy my trips to visit family – spread all over the country from the NE to Poole in Dorset. Recent experiences have nailed home that life is short, and we should both embrace it and have no regrets.

I feel that I connect more with the ‘real me’ when I am having a break … I have more space to reflect and plan.

What about you?

De-cluttering tips

April 11, 2012

Easter is another one of those times in the year when people feel the need to set goals / make a fresh start. I’ve recently been having a clothing clear-out, although with the weather extremes lately, it’s difficult to know whether I still need my winter wardrobe!

I know it’s one thing to think about de-cluttering and something else to actually do it. But thinking about what’s going to motivate you to do it is a start.

For me it will be about having the end result in mind – what will the wardrobe (and the recovered space under my bed!) look like when I’ve finished? It could be this for you, or perhaps it’s about other spaces in the house. How do you want the bookcases, the spare room, the garage, the kitchen or your desk to look when you’re done?

Here are some tips I’ve found useful when de-cluttering:

1. Know what you’re aiming for. Create a visual image if this helps, and be realistic.

2. Don’t try to do it all at once. Whilst coaching several people towards de-cluttering their households, small steps have usually worked best. Perhaps go for one room per week.

3. Enjoy the new space you’ve created for a while. Rather than immediately fill up the space you’ve created with new things, think strategically about adding new stuff if that’s what you want to do.

4. Think of productive things to do with the stuff you don’t want. Recycling or charities are a good start, but you may have other ideas. This way, not only will you have cleared your “clutter” but someone else will benefit too!

Are you having any spring cleaning or de-cluttering urges yet?

Do you have a plan or any useful tips you can share?

(Photo credit: nuttakit)

How often do you set exciting challenges for yourself?

October 3, 2011

During a recent walk through a nearby forest, which took in a Trim Trail, I came across this climbing wall. When I was young, I used to love climbing trees .. proper ‘tomboy’! As soon as I saw this I thought, “Now there’s a challenge! I’d love to have a go at that!”

Bearing in mind my tree-climbing days are well in the distant past, I think it’s fair to say I overestimated my ability to scale this wall. I think the idea is to get up to the top then down the other side …

… I managed to traverse across it from one side to the other! Nevertheless, the Outdoor Education lecturer at the Teacher Training college I attended would have been impressed … 3 points of contact on the wall at all times!

Even though I didn’t manage to achieve the full and proper use of this piece of equipment, I was very satisfied with my efforts 🙂 With a little practice (probably whilst no-one is looking!) I can see me getting over the top one day.

This was an exciting challenge rather than a daunting one. I was up for it and felt a great sense of achievement afterwards. Getting over the top will happen, it’s all about taking it one step (no pun intended!) at a time.

What kind of exciting challenges have you faced recently (both in your personal and working life)?

With these types of challenges, the excitement provides the added adrenalin which gets you through. For me, the motivation for doing this challenge came from the feeling I would get during and after it. Exciting challenges are perhaps those ones which are short-term, and ones where you’ll get a quick buzz from completing them.

Setting yourself exciting challenges on a regular basis does wonders for confidence and an overall sense of wellbeing. Daunting challenges have a different feel as you approach them. More on that topic in a different blog.

Reflecting back and moving forward

August 31, 2011

When I coach Head Teachers, the most common benefit they say they gain from coaching is “time and space to reflect”. As we come to the end of the school holidays and begin a new term, it’s time to start anew, a time for planning and moving forward. But how do you move forward without looking at what you’re moving forward from?

Reflecting back promotes healthy questionning:

  • What has gone well that needs to be maintained?
  • What could I / we do more of?
  • What needs to change?
  • How could I / we use our resources more effectively?

What other questions do you ask yourself? Perhaps you’ve already done your reflecting back. If so, what format did this take? Was it something you did sub-consciously, or with a more structured format (e.g. Performance Management / appraisal meetings)?

So, September is just around the corner; a time for setting new goals or targets, for new beginnings. Thorough and honest self-reflection will provide you with more relevant targets.

What new targets are you setting yourself for this autumn, and how do you know they’re the best ones?

Top 3 tips

1. Make sure there’s a solid reason for the target you set. Don’t just have a target for target’s sake. Ensure it has the capacity to move you / your team / your school forward.

2. Carefully consider the benefits from achieving the target.  Make a list of these and keep them in mind as you progress; they can keep you motivated and on track!

3. Establish an ongoing reflection strategy. Spend a few minutes each week to reflect on how you’re progressing towards your target. Adjust deadlines, resource requirements, expectations, depending on what your reflections tell you.

(Photo credit: sheelamohan)

A postcard from the future

March 9, 2011

If you were to send yourself a postcard from the future, say a year from now, what would you like it to say?

  • What will be different about you?
  • What will your business / career look like?
  • What will have changed about your daily routine?
  • What challenges have you overcome?

… And what does this tell you about what you need to do over the next 12 months?

Although you won’t know exactly where you’ll be, you may well have goals, plans, dreams, or desires; and this is a good starting point!

So imagine what you in a year will be doing, and consider what advice you’d give yourself to achieve what you’ve achieved.

Some examples …

Hi (your name),

Business is going great guns. My clients are loving my newly developed service! I’m much more confident about delivering seminars, and am excited about moving to new premises in 3 months.

My advice? Keep believing you can do it and continue to learn from those around you.

Dear _____

I’ve figured out how to deal with the communication issues at work! I’ve enlisted the help of an expert, who helped me identify why our current systems weren’t working. We now have really effective communication strategies in place, staff are much happier, and there are far fewer misunderstandings.

Advice? Don’t try to do it all yourself. You’re not Wonder Woman / Superman. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness! Learn from it and add it to your skill set.

Hi _____

Feeling much fitter and healthier, and enjoying a well deserved break! Changing my diet has given me a lot more energy, which means I’m much more productive both at home and work. It wasn’t easy, but having small targets spread out over the year was the key success factor.

My main piece of advice: Start making small changes now, and don’t be hard on yourself if you lapse occasionally. It’s all progress, and you’ll get there!

So what would your postcard say?


(Photo courtesy of Anankkml)

Coaching for Kids – Part 2

November 18, 2010

In this blog, I continue where I left off in Part 1 and look at exploring targets further for maximum benefit.

So you’ve set the target with the child, what’s next?

Part 2 – Exploring targets

I remember setting maths targets with my Y5s. My general policy would be to have their targets in their maths books (or on cards on their tables). I would periodically remind them of these, or tell them at the beginning of a lesson that we would be focusing on their targets, when relevant. I would also use opportunities during 1-1 dialogue to see how they were progressing with the targets. Letters would also go home to parents to inform them of the targets, and when they’d been achieved, along with a suitable celebratory certificate!

Knowing what I know now, I don’t think I went far enough in helping the children work towards their targets. Today, when I work with children on their targets I am reminded of the quote: “A goal properly set is half-way reached” (Abraham Lincoln). So how can we help children explore their targets more fully to give them the best chance of achieving them?

Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Ask them to say what they think their target means

Giving them an opportunity to put it in their own language not only helps you understand their perspective of the target, and eliminate any misunderstandings, but helps them take more ownership of it.

2. Break their target into smaller chunks

For example: Target “To learn the 6 times table”

Step 1: Learn half the multiplication facts (let the child choose which ones!)

Step 2: Learn the remaining half

Step 3: Learn half the corresponding division facts (discussing links between the two)

Step 4: Learn the remaining division facts

Of course, Steps 2 and 3 can be interchanged, and this is only my example. You may have your own way of teaching the various multiplication/division facts. The point is to make the targets easier to learn and less daunting (depending on the size of them!)

3. Set suitable time scales

This is closely linked to step 2 and needs to be expressed in appropriate ‘time’ language for their age group.

If their target is for the term, for example, after breaking it down into smaller chunks, link these to specific time frames.

4. What resources / support do they need

Ask the child what they can already do / what they already know that will help them work towards their target. Follow this up with asking what else would help them achieve their target. It might be about having some specific resources, a friend to help (e.g. with a behaviour-related target), opportunities in lessons to practice / showcase their developing skill, or something else.

5. Identify rewards / incentives

Ask them to think about a suitable reward for achieving their target. Would a certificate be a good idea? A letter to their parents? Extra time on their favourite PC program?

For example: Whilst presenting certificates in assembly is good to highlight success, it may not hit the mark for every child. Some may be daunted by the attention and prefer some ‘quieter celebration’.

Part 3 will focus on monitoring targets.

If you’ve tried any of the ideas in this blog or Part 1, I’d love to hear about them.

Coaching for Kids – Part 1

October 5, 2010

To mark the start of my daily “Coaching 4 kids” tips on Twitter, I’m combining these with a set of blogs on the topic of using coaching with children.

Being a coach with a background in education, I guess you could say it’s a natural step to be interested in how using coaching skills can help children in school. Following a recent pilot study to explore this further, results have been positive. These blog posts will share and discuss these further.

Part 1 – Setting Targets

Coaching in schools lends itself very nicely to helping pupils work towards their individual targets, whether these be SEN targets, linked to IEPs, or core subject targets linked to raising attainment. As coaching is about empowering the ‘coachee’ (in this case the child) to be accountable for their own development, it’s useful to encourage the child to take ownership of the target. So if you’ve set the target, you could encourage ownership by getting the child to see the personal benefits for them:

  • how will achieving this target help you?
  • when you reach this target, what will you be able to do (better)?

… And encourage them to see the wider picture….

  • what else will you be able to do as a result?
  • what other positive things could this mean for you?

Try to keep the questions broad and not too leading. There may be some little gems of information you can get on areas of development / self-reflection you hadn’t realised were going on for the child … as I happily discovered during my pilot study research! (More of this in a separate blog.)

If you want the child to set their own targets (for a given area), some questions you could ask include:

  • So what do you want?
  • What would be a good target for (maths/your behaviour) which would help you?
  • What would be a good thing to aim for? (in the context of a conversation on a particular area)
  • If you could pick a really great target to work on, to help with your (literacy/spellings), what would that be?

Ensure the targets are positively worded; focus on what they want, rather than what they don’t want. (You get what you focus on, so make sure it’s positive!)

Part 2 will focus on exploring the targets further for maximum benefit.

As usual, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the topics I talk about, so if you’ve got some experience with using coaching in school with children, or have any comments/questions about this blog, please get in touch.